Can we really trust our emotions? Modern human societies are full of people who end up in very bad places because they got entangled in all kinds of destructive behaviors driven by toxic emotions. Can’t we just get rid of all that anger and sadness, all that guilt and envy, all that anxiety and delusional rage?
Many ancient philosophies and religions have been trying to achieve this very goal through systems of control and repression. But there are also very valid reasons for why we have the emotions we have, as the clinical psychiatrist Randolph M. Nesse points out in his book Good Reasons for Bad Feelings. There are several evolutionary dynamics that explain the emotional responses we have, many of which have profound implications for our well-being. I here review some of the main arguments of the author.